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Everything is Obvious

Everything is Obvious

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Book: Everything is Obvious
Author: , Jean Greaves

Book Summary

is the Mona Lisa the most famous painting in the world? Why did
Facebook succeed when other social networking sites failed? Did the
surge in Iraq really lead to less violence? How much can CEO’s impact
the performance of their companies? And does higher pay incentivize
people to work hard?

you think the answers to these questions are a matter of common sense,
think again. As sociologist and network science pioneer Duncan Watts
explains in this provocative book, the explanations that we give for the
outcomes that we observe in life—explanation that seem obvious once we
know the answer—are less useful than they seem.

Drawing on the
latest scientific research, along with a wealth of historical and
contemporary examples, Watts shows how common sense reasoning and
history conspire to mislead us into believing that we understand more
about the world of human behavior than we do; and in turn, why attempts
to predict, manage, or manipulate social and economic systems so often
go awry.

It seems obvious, for example, that people respond to
incentives; yet policy makers and managers alike frequently fail to
anticipate how people will respond to the incentives they create. Social
trends often seem to have been driven by certain influential people;
yet marketers have been unable to identify these “influencers” in
advance. And although successful products or companies always seem in
retrospect to have succeeded because of their unique qualities,
predicting the qualities of the next hit product or hot company is
notoriously difficult even for experienced professionals.

Only by
understanding how and when common sense fails, Watts argues, can we
improve how we plan for the future, as well as understand the present—an
argument that has important implications in politics, business, and
marketing, as well as in science and everyday life.

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